It's been almost a year and a half since the last newsletter, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd fallen off the face of the earth, or simply lost interest in our ancestors ... I'm glad to report that neither are true!
 
I plead various excuses involving work, family upheavals and the simple fact that new information comes through much more slowly once the easy sources have been exhausted.
 
David
 
 
In this issue:

New subscribers to the newsletter

Sheila Jaynes Gurr
Sheila is a descendant of a William Gurr, born in Kent but who moved to Chicago, Illinois sometime between 1843 and 1847.

Simon Gurr
Simon lives in Bristol but comes from Sussex Gurr stock.
David Mathieson
David is from the New Zealand line of Gurrs, but now lives in Brighton.
 
Janet Weldhagen
Janet is the granddaughter of Henry John Gurr, who emigrated to South Africa in the early 1900s - more below!
 
Lynda Mee
Lynda is a great-granddaughter of Thomas Blown Collins Gurr of Leicester. She now lives in Canada.

South African Gurrs!

In September last year, I had an email out of the blue from Janet Weldhagen. She'd just started researching her family history, and had put the word "Gurr" into a search engine to see what came up on her mother's lineage, and so found my site.
 
The "Gurr Family Centennial Booklet" produced in New Zealand had mentioned in passing that Henry John Gurr, son of William Gurr of Lamberhurst had gone to South Africa, but I'd drawn a blank on tracing him.
 
It turns out that Henry was Janet's grandfather. Although the Gurr name has died out, it's nice to know that many of his descendants are still in South Africa! Several of them have emigrated to Australia, one to Melbourne! 

A new, simpler family tree

Many folks have told me that whilst the Family Tree section of the website is great for its detail and coverage, it's difficult to place yourself and to visualise the relationships with some of our key ancestors.
 
I've made some feeble attempts in the past to try and create a graphical representation of the tree, but it quickly became apparent to me that once you get past three or four generations you need an extremely wide screen or sheet of paper to create it on!
 
I've made another attempt, and it seems a little more useful. This is a partial  tree, showing only those ancestors who are of particular significance, descending from John & Elizabeth Gurr (née Lester) of Chatham (all the living Gurrs I've found descend from these two). In particular, it shows the progenitors of each of the main geographical groups of Gurrs in our tree - USA, New Zealand, Leicester, South Africa. Down the left-hand column it shows the Gurrs who remained in Chatham and who continued to run a butcher's business there until the 1950s. It also shows the Gurrs who remained in Lamberhurst, and who are believed to still have descendants living in the area surrounding Tonbridge Wells.
 
I hope this helps you place your own section of the Gurr family in context!

Picture of "The Agincourt"

After following a hunch, I came across an interesting line of research - Nick Vine Hall's Ships' Picture Research Service. Nick has a massive database of published pictures of ships which he can search for a fee.
 
I was particularly interested in tracking down an image of "The Agincourt", the ship on which George Gurr (together with his new wife Mary Ann and his brother Edward) travelled to Melbourne in 1860.
 
What Nick managed to trace was not a picture of "The Agincourt", but almost ... a picture of her sister ship "The Seringapatam", on which "The Agincourt" was modelled.
 
A model of "The Seringapatam" without sails or rigging is displayed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, but Nick also found a picture in a book on the Blackwall frigates, of which "The Agincourt" and "The Seringapatam" were but two.

Pictures of Melbourne

In March 2002, Roger Gurr (grandson of Charles Collins Gurr of Leicester) visited Australia. Whilst there, he managed to visit Melbourne and take some pictures of the streets in Melbourne where George Gurr was known to have lived:

Picture of Chatham, 1793

In order to get a more complete view of the key locations in our ancestors' lives, I've been trying to trace relevant contemporary pictures. The latest of these is an engraving of Chatham in 1793, showing the naval dockyard in the foreground, several naval ships, and the town of Chatham in the distance.
 
To place this in context, refer to the partial family tree above ... this is the Chatham of William & Mary Gurr (née Wall), Mary being the first recorded proprietor of the Gurr's butchers business in Chatham.
 
The HMS Victory (Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar) had been built in Chatham in 1765. England had lost the American War of Independence just 10 years previously. The Industrial Revolution was well under way, generating huge increases in wealth for the already wealthy (and more poverty and squalor for those already poor). The French Revolution had begun just four years ago seriously rattling the English establishment (who feared revolution at home) and it was in this year England declared war on Revolutionary France as it prepared to invade Holland.
 
Chatham Dockyard would have been a hive of activity in this period as the demand for warships rose with the new war against France.
 

Will of John Gurr

I wrote in the July '02 newsletter that I'd found a copy of the will for Elizabeth Gurr (née Waker), widow of John Gurr of Chatham (see partial tree above). The Public Record Office have now put further wills online, including that of her husband John. You can view the original will as a PDF, or the much more readable transcript in MS-Word format.
 


--
David Gurr
Hemel Hempstead, UK
Gurr Family History at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gurrs/